So it seems that in much of the visual media that permeates today’s culture there is an underlying theme of religion. Even if not factored explicitly into the plot of the work itself, it exists in the murmurings of secondary characters or in the historical context of the birth of a story. The DaVinci Code? Yup. Pi? To a certain extent. The Chronicles of Narnia? Duh. What is the value of this religious presence? Is it to present a certain level of comfort for the fickle, aged and 1%’s who are active readers? Or is it to permeate the reader’s subconscious and appeal to the oft-religious upbringings that many of us can relate to?
Questions such as these filled the nooks and crannies of my analytical mind as I began reading “The Return,” an ‘action adventure not about religion’ by promising author Carter Vance. Despite the tagline that accompanied the book review request, I instantly knew that Mr. Vance’s explanatory words were indeed a warning that it was the omnipresence of the religion that would fill the pages of his work.
Borrowing certain elements that have made Dan Brown’s massive bestsellers so successful, Vance creates an intriguing, suspenseful tale commencing with the death of a young man who makes the discovery of a mysterious library housed with books about the infamous sect The Knights Templar not long before his demise. This is not a spoiler as it is the accompanying tale post-murder that comprises the majority of the work. The man’s death sets into motion a battle between the often thought long dead Knights Templar itself and with the man’s friend, Peter.
This battle contains components not so unfamiliar to readers of this type of fiction. Carter manages to bring a unique voice to the narration, however, choosing to wane poetically on humanity itself instead of strictly focusing on the search for the eponymous Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant. Carter’s “action adventure not about religion” is nothing but. The hunts that comprise the book itself sets up for the second book in this proposed series that sees, well, the return of one of religions most easily identifiable figures.
Vance’s central thematic construct of Good Vs. Evil is effective and maintains the reader’s interest from page to page and from each well-researched situation to the next. This book is a bit like apple pie: a lot of people will enjoy it, the reader can enhance it by adding something, and it can be just a little different from the other pies one has eaten. A good read for conspiracy theorists and religious fanatics alike, with a smattering of techno-paranoia.